New bank-fraud malware called Vultur infects thousands of devices

Not too long ago detected Android malware, some unfold via the Google Play Retailer, makes use of a novel approach to supercharge the harvesting of login credentials from greater than 100 banking and cryptocurrency purposes.

The malware, which researchers from Amsterdam-based safety agency ThreatFabric are calling Vultur, is among the many first Android threats to document a tool display screen each time one of many focused apps is opened. Vultur makes use of an actual implementation of the VNC screen-sharing utility to reflect the display screen of the contaminated gadget to an attacker-controlled server, researchers with ThreatFabric mentioned.



The subsequent degree

The standard modus operandi for Android-based bank-fraud malware is to superimpose a window on high of the login display screen offered by a focused app. The “overlay,” as such home windows are normally referred to as, seems equivalent to the consumer interface of the banking app, giving victims the impression they’re coming into their credentials right into a trusted piece of software program. Attackers then harvest the credentials, enter them into the app working on a unique gadget, and withdraw cash.

“Banking threats on the cell platform are now not solely based mostly on well-known overlay assaults, however are evolving into RAT-like malware, inheriting helpful methods like detecting foreground purposes to start out display screen recording,” ThreatFabric researchers wrote of the brand new Vultur method in a post.

They continued:

This brings the risk to a different degree, as such options open the door for on-device fraud, circumventing detection based mostly on phishing MO’s that require fraud to be carried out from a brand new gadget: With Vultur fraud can occur on the contaminated gadget of the sufferer. These assaults are scalable and automatic because the actions to carry out fraud might be scripted on the malware backend and despatched within the type of sequenced instructions.

Vultur, like many Android banking trojans, depends closely on accessibility services constructed into the cell OS. When first put in, Vultur abuses these providers to acquire the permissions required to work. To do that, the malware makes use of an overlay taken from different malware households. From then on, Vultur displays all requests that set off the accessibility providers.


Stealth and extra

The malware makes use of the providers to detect requests that come from a focused app. The malware additionally makes use of the providers to stop deletion of the app through conventional measures. Particularly, each time the consumer tries to entry the app particulars display screen within the Android settings, Vultur mechanically clicks the again button. That blocks the consumer from accessing the uninstall button. Vultur additionally hides its icon.

One other approach the malware stays stealthy: trojanized apps that set up it are full-featured applications that really present actual providers, similar to health monitoring or two-factor authentication. Regardless of the cloaking makes an attempt, nevertheless, the malware gives no less than one telltale signal that it’s working—no matter trojanized app put in Vultur will seem within the Android notification panel as projecting the display screen.


As soon as put in, Vultur begins the display screen recording, utilizing VNC implementation from Alpha VNC. To supply distant entry to the VNC server working on the contaminated gadget, the malware makes use of ngrok, an app that makes use of an encrypted tunnel to show native techniques hidden behind firewalls to the general public Web.

The malware is put in by a trojanized app generally known as a dropper. Up to now, ThreatFabric researchers have discovered two trojanized apps in Google Play that set up Vultur. That they had mixed installations of about 5,000, main the researchers to estimate that the variety of Vultur infections is numbered within the hundreds. In contrast to most Android malware, which depends on third-party droppers, Vultur makes use of a customized dropper that has come to be referred to as Brunhilda.

“This dropper and Vultur are each developed by the identical risk actor group,” ThreatFabric researchers wrote. “The selection of growing its personal non-public trojan, as a substitute of renting third-party malware, shows a robust motivation from this group, paired with the general excessive degree of construction and group current within the bot in addition to the server code.”

The researchers discovered that Brunhilda was used up to now to put in completely different Android banking malware generally known as Alien. In all, the researchers estimate Brunhilda has contaminated greater than 30,000 gadgets. The researchers based mostly the estimate on malicious apps beforehand out there within the Play Retailer—some with greater than 10,000 installations every—in addition to figures from third-party markets.

Vultur is programmed to document screens when any of 103 Android banking or cryptocurrency apps are working within the foreground. Italy, Australia, and Spain had been the nations with essentially the most banking establishments focused.


In addition to banking and cryptocurrency apps, the malware additionally harvests credentials for Fb, Fb-owned WhatsApp messenger, TikTok, and Viber Messenger. Credential harvesting for these apps happens via conventional keylogging, though the ThreatFabric publish didn’t clarify why.

Whereas Google has eliminated all Play Market apps identified to comprise Brunhilda, the corporate’s monitor document means that new trojanized apps will in all probability seem. Android customers ought to solely set up apps that present helpful providers and, even then, solely apps from well-known publishers, when in any respect doable. Folks must also pay shut consideration to consumer rankings and app habits for indications of malice.

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